World Championship Roundup: The Playoffs Are Set

The eight teams that will battle for a medal are known, with Canada and Germany squeaking in at the last possible second.
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IIHF men's world championship

Canada Loses in Shootout But Still Advances

In a must-win game for Team Canada to advance to the quarter-finals, the team came just short after losing to Finland 3-2 in the shootout in a game Canada led at multiple times.

Fortunately for Canada, Germany's 2-1 win over Latvia later in the day helped Canada advance after grabbing a point against Finland. Had Canada lost in regulation or had the later game gone to extra time, Canada would have missed the quarter-finals for the first time in tournament history.

Canada scored just 1:30 into the game to make it 1-0. After a four-shot barrage in the opening 90 seconds, Brandon Pirri came off the bench and Gabriel Vilardi set up his undetected teammate in open ice. Pirri quickly sent a shot past Jussi Olkinuora's glove to make it 1-0, a lead that would last for the next 20 minutes of play after a dominant opening period for Canada. 

But the Finns came out much stronger in the second, recording the first five shots of the period. Arttu Ruotsalainen would take the puck from his own zone and his shot hit right off of Darcy Kuemper's glove and in from a distance, putting Finland back in the fight.

After allowing the first five shots in the second period, Canada found its edge again and recorded six of the next seven chances. Maxime Comtois would put Canada back in front at 28:18 when Connor Brown passed him the disk from behind the net, with Comtois beating Olkinuora high glove for the 2-1 goal.

Canada looked in control of the game, but a late goal meant the game required overtime. Ruotsalainen grabbed his second of the afternoon after Anton Lundell set him up with an open pass to the right of Kuemper, beating the Arizona Coyotes goaltender for the 2-2 goal.

Overtime solved nothing, leaving Canada's hopes of advancing in the hands of a shootout. There, Ruotsalainen scored the game-winning goal to give the Finns the victory, forcing Canada to wait until the evening to find out if they had advanced or not.

Swiss End Round Robin With Strong Outing Over GB

Switzerland had already clinched a playoff berth in Group A on Monday, but it still managed to finish the preliminary round on a high note after beating Great Britain 6-3.

The battle of the tournament goal-scoring leaders was the focus of the first period. Gregory Hofmann took sole possession of the tournament lead with six at 10:31 after lulling Ben Bowns into a false sense of security. Hofmann waited for Bowns to get in line for what he expected to be the show, but Hofmann waited long enough to pick the right side to make it 1-0.

But a minute later, Liam Kirk tied Hofmann for the lead in scoring. Kirk took the puck at the blueline and was able to beat Reto Berra blocker side for the tying goal. The lead wouldn't last the distance of the period, however, as Romain Loeffel's knuckle puck shot somehow fooled Bowns for the 2-1 goal, a lead they'd take into the second period. 

Just 5:34 into the middle stanza, the British fought back. Kirk's power-play goal made it 2-2, giving GB some life and Kirk the tournament goal-scoring lead in the process. Unfortunately for Britain, that was the last point in the game in which they were able to keep the game close. 

Just seven seconds after the game past the halfway point, Santeri Alatalo's point shot on the man advantage bounced off a British defender in front for the 3-2 goal. Just 13 seconds after that, Christoph scored his first of two goals to make it 4-2, only to add another at 36:09. Nico Hischier added a late goal in the second to make it 6-2, taking all the steam out of GB's sail.

USA Wins Group B After Beating Italy

The United States has taken the top spot in Group B thanks to a 4-2 victory over Italy on Tuesday. 

USA will meet up with Slovakia for a quarter-final matchup on Thursday. Italy finishes the tournament as the only team to fail to record a point, but with no relegation this year, the tournament was used as a way of preparing the team for survival in 2022.

It didn't take long for the United States to do its damage. At 6:54, San Jose Sharks forward Kevin Labanc opened the scoring after Davide Fadani missed the shot with his glove to make it 1-0. Labanc scored again about four minutes later, taking Matty Beniers' pass and wasting no time beating the Italian netminder for the 2-0 goal lead. Conor Garland finished the first period with a goal with just 15 seconds left, taking the puck 

The Italians would get goals from Luca Frigo and Stefano Giliati to put a bit of fear into the United States. But a goal in-between by Garland just before the halfway point in the game ended up putting the game too far out of reach, securing the win a game USA outshot Italy 43-11. 

Germany Wins in Regulation to Eliminate Latvia

Even with fans in the building, Latvia's dreams of making the quarter-finals ended in heartbreak as Germany was able to squeak away with the 2-1 win.

Germany will advance with Canada, who needed one of the two teams to win the game in regulation to move on. Latvia will finish the tournament in fifth place on home ice, finishing outside the top eight for the 14th time over the past 16 tournaments.

The game started as perfectly as possible for the Germans. At 3:16, John Peterka scored his first goal of the tournament after rushing in on the play after taking a feed from Moritz Seider to beat Janis Kalnins up high. Then, three minutes later, Marcel Noebels scored at 6:40 on the doorstep to make it 2-0, giving the Germans a great start in the contest.

But Latvia, hosting fans for the first time all tournament, wanted to impress the homebase. At 5:55 in the second, Rodrigo Abols' wrister was too much for Mathias Niederberger, beating him blocker side to make it 2-1. Latvia only mustered five shots in the third period, with Mathias Niederberger stopping all of them to finish off the victory with 23 saves.

Czechs Slaughter Slovaks

In the grand scheme of things, the game didn't have the intrigue due to both Slovakia and the Czech Republic earning playoffs berths on Monday. But there were still quarter-final placements on the line, and with a 7-3 win on Tuesday, the Czech Republic was able to take third place in the group in what was a rocky round-robin for the nation. 

With the loss, Slovakia finished fourth and will play the United States in the quarter-finals on Monday. The Czechs will meet up with Finland, with the Finns taking second place in Group B.

The game was never really in doubt for the Czechs. Filip Zadina scored 29 seconds into the game to set the tone, and Michael Spacek scored at 15:04. Lukas Radil's goal at 22:49 made it 3-0, forcing Slovakia to play even more desperately in what was already a tough game for them. 

Fortunately for them, Matus Sukel scored at 26:53 to breathe a bit of life into Slovakia, but Libor Sulak's goal with 11 seconds to go in the frame really put the game out of reach. Matej Stransky, Matej Blumel and Libor Hajek all added goals for the Czechs in the third and Martin Bucko and Kristian Pospisil scored for Slovakia, finishing off the final 7-3 score.

Belarus No Threat to Russian Attack

A wild first period was all Russia needed to do to assert its dominance, beating Belarus 6-0 to close out the round-robin.

Russia will meet with Canada in the quarter-finals, a battle that should be quite competitive. Belarus will go home early, falling to last in Group A due to Great Britain having the tiebreaker thanks to head-to-head. It was a tough result for Belarus, who started the event off well with a win against Sweden in its first game of the tournament.

Nikita Nesterov was the star of the game, scoring two goals and adding an assist. He scored the games first goal and set up MAxim Shalunov's goal that made it 3-0. Nesterov's last contribution was the lone goal of the third period, finishing off a play off of a Vladmir Tarasenko feed. 

Emil Galimov's goal at 4:29 chased Belarusian goaltender Konstantin Shostak out of the net in favor of Alexei Kolosov, with Shostak allowing two goals on just three shots. Mikhail Grigorenko had Russia's fourth goal of the first period, and Dmitri Voronkov added a goal in the third to finish off the carnage.


Three Stars

1. Arttu Ruotsalainen, F (FIN): Two goals in regulation and another in the shootout. Nobody could stop Ruotsalainen when it mattered and the country of Canada will spend the next few weeks cursing his name.

2. Nikita Nesterov, D (RUS): With two goals and an assist, you couldn't really ignore him out there, even if it was against a defeated Belarusian team. Only had five points in 20 previous World Championship games. 

3. Liam Kirk, F (GB): With seven goals in the tournament, highlighted by two on Tuesday, it's a shame that the tournament goal-scoring leader won't have a chance to add to his total.


Quarter-Final Matchups

Switzerland vs. Germany - 9:15 AM ET
USA vs. Slovakia - 9:15 AM ET
Czech Republic vs. Finland - 1:15 PM ET
Russia vs Canada - 1:15 PM ET



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